To what extent are Product Hunt rankings gamified/bought?

I posted my product, RecipeCart, to PH last week and immediately received 5 emails guaranteeing a top 3 product ranking with a 100% guarantee. In their emails, the promoters mentioned several well-known products they claimed they had gotten to top-3 spots. I'm sure other indie hackers on here have received the same emails as I.

At 3 in the morning when I posted my product, I saw a few other products immediately get 100 upvotes and a dozen comments, and then only slowly trickle up from there. While I had asked 20 friends or so to upvote my product, it organically attracted ~300 upvotes. Yet, Product Hunt's ranking algorithm seems to have punished my product's ranking (it ranked 11th while having the 4th most upvotes). I noticed that obviously fake profiles were liking my product and wonder if it could be part of the paid promoters' scheme (spamming other products, to help the ranking of yours).

Product Hunt was never a big deal for me, nor did it have a large impact on our growth. I'm grateful for a free outlet and the reception my app received, but the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps a little more human curation or moderation by the PH team would go a long way. Only 10-15 products are posted a day.

Does anyone know more about this? Change my mind!

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